Takuma Sato excited for chance at Indianapolis redemption

Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

It’s been five long years since Takuma Sato fell just short of an Indianapolis 500 win – a heartbreak he recounted for Motorsport just days ago. In the years since, the 40-year-old has yet to finish higher than 13th.

However, in the midst of his first Month of May with Andretti Autosport, the Japanese shoe finally feels poised to redeem himself in ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’

“This is the most competitive package in terms of going through practice and qualifying I’ve had here for sure,” Sato told Kickin; the Tires. “In the race it might be a different scenario, but Andretti Autosport’s shown tremendous speed in the race for the past few years.

“I’m confident our package will work beautifully well on Sunday. Hopefully we have our strongest race.”

Sato’s spent the last four seasons competing full-time for A.J. Foyt Racing, earning two poles and a podium with a best finish of 11th in the series standings. The team was rarely among the strongest in the paddock, but Sato enjoyed modest success with occasional drives into the top quarter of the field.

However, the Tokyo, Japan native and Foyt never managed a competitive drive at the Brickyard.

That’s part of the reason Sato now finds himself at Andretti, the defending winners at Indy.

“As a driver you always want to have a competitive package,” Sato said. “I have great respect to A.J. Foyt, and all of the boys on the Foyt team cars, and particularly Larry (Foyt), who put everything together for the last four season. I’m thankful for all of the support I got.

“But this year, it seems to be new challenge. There’s a lot of excitement with this team, particularly with the Indy 500 and the Month of May. It’s been tremendously successful and very positive.

A seven-year veteran of Formula One in his eighth Verizon IndyCar Series season, Sato has seen many organizations in his career. The former Grand Prix of Long Beach winner says it’s Andretti’s depth that makes them stand apart.

“Being a big team like this and having five other teammates, and six cars in total, the depth of the engineering and the quantity of resources we’re dealing with is massively different,” Sato said. “The build quality of the cars is superb, so we can run very similar setups together. We can make group runs and discover what weaknesses and strengths we have.

“Those sorts of experiences are first-time things for me this year, and it seems to be working really well. I’m very happy and rally enjoying this sort of family.”

With luck, Sato hopes that family will deliver him a drink of milk at the end of 500 miles.

Sato will roll off fourth in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500, joining Fernando Alonso and JR Hildebrand to complete the second row.

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